Solar technology continues to advance as time goes on, especially in the field of building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Lately, solar shingles and solar tile technologies have become an increasingly popular offering from installers, and many large companies like Tesla are tailoring their offerings to include these specialized installations.
When Tesla first announced their solar roof tiles in 2016, it was seen as a unique and revolutionary offering. But many other companies are coming out with similar products, and Chinese solar manufacturer Hanergy is the latest to take on this trend. Hanergy primarily manufactures thin-film panels, and just announced plans for a new generation of their solar tile technology, dubbed “HanTiles.”
Here come new HanTiles
Hanergy’s HanTiles are glass solar roofing tiles, expected to be available in the U.S. later this year. Like Tesla’s solar tiles, this technology would replace a home’s standard roofing material while also generating electricity.
This is Hanergy’s second generation of HanTiles, and the first that will be available in the United States. The second generation features an improved design with a single layer of glass, rather than a double layer. This means lighter solar tiles, and easier installations for contractors. Despite eliminating a layer of glass, the second generation of HanTiles are durable and can withstand heavy, unexpected impacts. The low profile of these tiles also means that they are very wind resistant.
Hanergy will manufacture two types of HanTiles. The first type includes a photovoltaic cell and produces electricity. The second is simply a glass tile without any electricity production capability. An installer will design a system that has enough photovoltaic cells to produce the energy you need, and use the glass tiles to cover the rest of your roof so that it matches the appearance of the rest of the property.
How do HanTiles compare to solar panels?
One major question solar shoppers have is what type of solar technology they should install, and whether there are advantages and disadvantages to installing solar tiles or shingles instead of traditional solar panels.
Historically, many building-integrated solar options have been less efficient than traditional PV panels. While efficiency information hasn’t yet been released about the new HanTiles, Hanergy is well known for making high efficiency thin-film technology. This past year, the company set three world records for efficiencies of their thin film technology, with the record setting module having an efficiency at 25.1 percent.
In regards to cost, solar panels are typically less expensive than solar tiles or shingles, and this is likely going to be the case for HanTiles as well. While pricing information hasn’t been released yet, Hanergy has already stated that the solar tiles are going to be more expensive than a typical roof, and are intended primarily for upscale homes and homeowners who are motivated by aesthetics.
On that note, the aesthetics is one of the major advantages that HanTiles has over traditional solar panels. They’re lower profile and appear sleeker on the roof. Because Hanergy is producing both tiles that produce electricity and those that do not, roofs utilizing this technology will have a much more congruent look than those with traditional panels on top of a standard roof.
How do HanTiles stack up against Tesla solar tiles?
Tesla solar roof tiles are probably the best-known solar roof option available to homeowners in the U.S. today. Here’s how HanTiles compare to Tesla’s tiles.
HanTiles come in a wavy form with three arches a single glass layer on the top. One of the major differences between Hanergy’s offering and Tesla’s is the number of styles available. HanTiles only come with one design option, while Tesla offers a variety of tiles based on your preferences and what your roof currently looks like. HanTile’s shape is most similar to the tuscan option (though a different color), while Tesla’s other options lie a bit flatter to the roof.
HanTile’s will come with a 25-year manufacturer warranty, and are estimated to have a lifetime of up to 30 years. Tesla’s solar tiles come with a slightly better warranty: 30 years on the power production of their solar tiles and a lifetime warranty on the tiles themselves.
While both Hanergy and Tesla are manufacturers of solar tiles, their installation process is different. Tesla has their own installation arm with their own employees working to both sell and install the roof. Hanergy, like other large solar panel manufacturers, does not install their product, but instead will sell it through distributors that have installer networks throughout the country.
Should you wait to go solar until HanTiles are available?
Because the second generation HanTiles aren’t expected to be on the market until the second-half of 2018, you may be wondering whether you should wait until they’re released before going solar.
You might want to wait for HanTiles if you are particularly concerned about aesthetics, like the appearance of HanTiles and are okay with a higher price tag. HanTiles, or other solar shingle and BIPV options, are also worth looking into if you have a restrictive homeowners association (HOA) that’s particular about the appearance of roofs in your neighborhood. Because these solar tiles and others are low profile and blend in well with the rest of the roof, many HOAs are more accepting of them versus a traditional solar installation.
Solar tiles, HanTiles or otherwise, may also be worth consideration if you’re constructing a new home, or need a new roof anyway. The tiles can act as both your roofing material and a way to produce renewable energy for your home.
On the other hand, the sooner you install solar on your property, the sooner you can start saving on your electricity bill. Traditional solar panels are a perfectly sufficient option for most properties, and they also have the advantage of being less expensive and higher efficiency when compared to BIPV options. This will mean a quicker payback period and larger overall savings, especially if you have limited roof space.
The higher efficiency of conventional solar panels will also maximize your energy production over time. Even if your roof isn’t suitable for traditional panels or you’re worried about the appearance of solar panels on your roof, there are other types of installations available, such as ground mounts or carports.
When it comes to solar on your home, definitely look at multiple options before making a final decision. You can sign up on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace to receive multiple quotes. While most of our installer network doesn’t provide BIPV options (most installation companies only work with traditional panels), you can note in your account that you’re interested in BIPV to see if they can assist. On EnergySage, you can also receive quotes for turnkey solar panel installations to compare with solar shingle and tile options. If you’d prefer to start your solar research with a rough estimate of costs and savings of solar installations, try EnergySage’s Solar Calculator.